At least 8 dead after devastating floods in Kentucky


(NewsNation) — At least eight deaths have been reported after storms pounded parts of central Appalachia, leading to floods in Kentucky and West Virginia.

WHAS reported an 81-year-old woman in Perry County, Kentucky, was killed during the flooding. Two other fatalities were confirmed early Thursday: one in Perry County and the other in Knott County, Kentucky.

At a Thursday morning news conference, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he expects massive property damage and potential casualties from the overnight rain and subsequent flooding. Thursday evening Beshear tweeted that another five fatalities had been confirmed, bringing the total to eight.

Some families, Beshear said, could take years to rebuild and recover from the floods.

“We’re currently experiencing one of the worst, most devastating flooding events in Kentucky’s history,” Beshear said at the morning news conference. “The situation is dynamic and ongoing. In most places, we are not seeing receding water. In fact, in most places, it is not crested yet.”

“There are a lot of people in eastern Kentucky on top of roofs waiting to be rescued,” the governor added. “There are a number of people that are unaccounted for and I’m nearly certain this is a situation where we are going to lose some of them.”

Beshear made a request to the Biden administration for federal assistance.

Flash flooding and mudslides were reported across the mountainous region of eastern Kentucky, western Virginia and southern West Virginia, where thunderstorms have dumped several inches of rain over the past few days.

At least eight have died after flooding in Kentucky.

More than 20,000 power outages in eastern Kentucky were reported, while there were nearly 10,000 more in Southern West Virginia among the mountains.

Thursday night, state officials urged residents in Jackson, Kentucky, to evacuate due to discharge observed at the Panbowl Lake dam and rising river levels.

Officials also announced that State Route 15, which links the upper Kentucky River valley with the rest of the state, would close Thursday night in portions of Jackson.

The storms hit an Appalachian mountain region where communities and homes are built on steep hillsides or down in the hollows between them. The only flat land in the area often shoulders creeks and streams that can rise in a hurry.

Floyd County in eastern Kentucky declared a local state of emergency due to significant rainfall and flooding and the state’s Emergency Management crews have been deployed. Local emergency crews were trying to get to the small community of Virgie, Kentucky, where there was word of people trapped in their homes.

Others had their homes or cars washed away as the rain poured down for eight to 10 hours overnight. Much of the rainfall still continued into the morning, even after the region received around eight to 12 inches of precipitation.

With more rain expected in the area, the National Weather Service said additional flooding was possible into Friday in much of West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia. Forecasters said the highest threat of flash flooding was expected to shift farther east into West Virginia.

Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for six counties in West Virginia after severe thunderstorms this week caused significant local flooding, downed trees, power outages and blocked roads.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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